02 January 2013

Seeking Republican scientists

Daniel Sarewitz in Nature argues that American scientists are at risk of making themselves politically ineffective, because so many of them support the Democratic party.

Sarewitz is right that science has generally been supported by both U.S. parties.But Sarewitz misses the repeated attacks and / or gross errors on well-established science, notably:

• Biological evolution;
• Climate science, and;
• Female reproductive biology.

His claim that these are attacked because they are blurring into “social science,” and the Republican party is been hostile to that specifically is not convincing. There’s little doubt that with regard to the two areas of biology that the repeated attacks are due to religious conservatism.

It's hard to sit at a table for productive discussion with a party that contains members who assert your career is “lies from the pit of Hell.” Who wants that kind of grief?

Are there any evolutionary biologists who are active in the Republican party? And my follow-up is: how much armour do you have to wear when you go to a party meeting?

P.S.—And before anyone leaves a list of incorrect science supported by Democrats, I will point out that one person’s error does not justify or excuse anyone else’s error.

External links

Science must be seen to bridge the political divide


Anonymous said...
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Jeremy Fox said...

Sarewitz says a lot of strange things that just don't stand up to scrutiny. It's not just that I disagree with him, it's that much of what he writes is so poorly argued. I don't know why Nature gave him a platform.

On a more substantive note, it's interesting that back in, say, the 1950s and 60s, scientists as a group probably would've been viewed as rather conservative establishment types, at least in the US. And the Republicans probably would've been viewed as the more hard-nosed, reality-based, science-friendly party. Not sure if there's data going that far back on the political affiliations or voting patterns of scientists, though, so I freely admit I can't link to data to back up these impressions.

@Anonymous: in the US these days, I suggest that "moderate Republican" is really a word for "conservative Democrat who hasn't yet recognized that the national Republican party doesn't really want him around anymore". I'm thinking here of figures like David Frum...